Perched beyond the arc, so often veiled by the brilliance of Stephen Curry, is the other great Golden State shooter.
Klay Thompson is always ready to shoot.
With Stephen Curry out with his sprained right ankle, it was the Warriors’ complementary deep-ball artist who owned the night in Golden State’s 108-95 road victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thompson scored a career-high 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting and connected on his first six three-pointers of the game. The second-year shooter ranks third in the NBA in three-pointers made.
Not only was Curry missing after spraining his right ankle on Monday, but the Warriors were also without starter Harrison Barnes (knee soreness) and valued reserve Carl Landry (bruised shoulder). Newly returned center Andrew Bogut also sat, as he is not yet ready to play in back-to-back games.
“It’s great for these guys because people around the league need to know that we don’t just win with our stars; we’re a total team,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
With the win, Golden State recovers to earn a split on the four-game East Coast road trip, finishing with back-to-back wins including Monday’s victory at the Toronto Raptors.
Tuesday’s performance was further proof of the Warriors’ renewed depth this season.
Jarrett Jack, who started in place for Curry, scored 26 points and tied a career-high with 12 assists.
The veteran wouldn’t give Thompson the complete spotlight.
During Thompson’s on-court TV interview with Jim Barnett, Jack had some fun and got in front of the microphone to declare: “Oh my God! Klay is the best shooter in the world! Oh my God!”
Thompson played off the playfulness and transitioned into political interview mode:
“My teammates did a great job,” Thompson said. “A lot of catch and shoot situations; that’s where I make my money. I was just trying to move without the ball, I thought I did a good job of that tonight, and my teammates found me.”
Thompson added seven rebounds and guarded one of the league’s elite guards, Kyrie Irving, who scored 14 points despite being questionable before the game with the flu.
Meanwhile, the team’s All-Star had a near triple-double, as David Lee scored 20 points and tallied 13 rebounds and eight assists. Lee now has seven games this season with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, second only behind LeBron James, who has 12.
The Warriors shot 53.6 percent from the field and connected on their first nine three-point attempts through the third quarter. The Warriors started 9-for-9 beyond the arc up until the midpoint of the third quarter.
The Warriors led 55-44 at halftime and pushed their cushion to 84-68 after three quarters.
“I said it before; we are not going anywhere,” Jackson said. “People can jump off the bandwagon, they can write and still wait. We’re not going anywhere. We’re a good basketball team.
“We have high character and we have most importantly a winning spirit about us that refuses to lay down, to quit, to surrender and I think tonight was a prime example.”
Tweet of the game
Quality play and development from the young bench players is a credit to the Warriors’ coaching staff.
With minutes to go around on Tuesday, and plenty of Colin Kaepernick backup magic in the air during Super Bowl week, a number of Warriors took advantage of their additional minutes.
Kent Bazemore had a season-high nine points on 4-for-8 shooting in 30 minutes. Draymond Green added seven points and seven rebounds, and Charles Jenkins had four points and four assists.
Festus Ezeli, after not playing on Monday by coach’s decision, did not start but played 23 minutes off the bench for five points, three blocks and three rebounds.